Work from home is without a doubt one of the major concerns for cybersecurity risks businesses are having today.

COVID-19 has transformed how companies operate today. With 50 percent to 90 percent of staff working remotely, organizations are now looking at remote work as the new working style in the future. 

While remote working has its benefits, it also presents one of the biggest challenges, which is cybersecurity risks. Businesses face remote cybersecurity issues like:

  • Protection of data 
  • Networking challenges
  • Issues with cloud computing

Your remote employees may be unknowingly putting your company’s data at risk. Hence, working from home can potentially lead to data breaches, identity fraud, and a host of other negative consequences. 

A pandemic like this is an excellent time for hackers to feed off the fear and anxiety to lure people into clicking insecure links, believing in misinformation, and sharing sensitive details about themselves. 

Therefore, it is necessary for every organization to be familiar with the different types of risks associated with remote working approaches before implementing such a move to reap its numerous benefits. 

Here are some major ways how remote employees can pose cybersecurity risks to an organization. 

Home setups are often insecure

In most cases, a home setup that features a network connection and devices used to access confidential corporate data may have insufficient security. It lacks a defense-in-depth approach that is certainly used to secure an organization. Such as the use of the following:

  • VPNs 
  • Antivirus solutions 
  • Firewalls 
  • Intrusion prevention systems 

Enterprises rarely enforce such security measures to protect important data and provide basic security in residential environments where employees might be working remotely. In effect, there is an increased possibility of a breach occurring or compromise of authentications needed to access the company’s systems from home. 

Personal device usage

Another big concern is employees using personal devices for work. Corporate devices come with many layers of security. It cannot be easily accessed by cybercriminals. Several risks, like virus threats, hacking, etc., can happen on personal devices.

Remote cybersecurity becomes challenging with personal devices. They may not have the appropriate and secure software for working with a virtual environment. Anyone working in cybersecurity knows the importance of regular software updates. On personal devices, it is hard to monitor if the latest software versions are installed or not.

Physical threats

Physical threats are not counted as cybersecurity risks. However, employee security issues may also arise from human errors like talking on the phone loudly about sensitive information in public, unwanted buttons pressed by babies at home, or exposing the laptop screen to everyone in public places.

Sometimes, employees leave their devices unattended, which is one of the significant working-from-home issues. God knows what would happen if devices are left unattended in public places. Other threats include a loss of standard work culture, mismatched operating systems, and other issues that make cybersecurity for businesses a challenging task.

Phishing schemes

Remote employees can be the biggest threat to the network’s security. By unknowingly following cybersecurity worst practices, employees can end up giving hackers and cyber criminals access to the network and company’s sensitive data.

Phishing emails have become so sophisticated that it is increasingly becoming harder for employees to detect them, especially when phishing emails make it past email filters straight to an employee’s main inbox.

Increased data-sharing through the Internet lead to cyber attack

In office environments, employees use secured communication infrastructure and intranets to communicate and exchange information. However, work-from-home interactions are increasingly dependent on Internet connectivity. This is a huge risk since public Internets are insecure and often full of malicious actors. 

The connection used may contain several flaws that can be compromised to allow a cybercriminal to intercept every piece of data transmitted through the wide-area network. This calls for a more secure approach for communicating important information. It may comprise using secured applications for file sharing, sending and receiving emails, or using secure VPNs.

Tips to enhance cybersecurity for work from home

  • Create a policy that requires remote workers to use company-issued devices
  • Ensure the hardware is equipped with efficient security controls
  • Reduce the internet cyber risks through VPN use
  • Train employee on basic security practices – protecting their devices, using complex passwords that should be changed regularly
  • Develop and implement a disaster recovery and business continuity plan that will guide recovery efforts in case of a data breach on a remote workstation
  • Purchase cybersecurity liability insurance to help in recovery in case of an incident

Closing thought

It’s been rough sailing for organizations in the past year or so. In addition to COVID-19 and the risks of remote working, there has been an increase in public awareness of data privacy and growing regulatory pressure around data protection.

It is essential for all companies to put in place the necessary infrastructure as well as security guidelines, plans, and policies to minimize their exposure to cybersecurity risks.

Also read: Growing Significance of Cyber Security in Healthcare Industry